Cook-Trott stand strengthens England position against Windies

Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott put on 125 for the first wicket
Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott put on 125 for the first wicket
Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott put on 125 for the first wicket

[] – It was a sight England once took for granted but this time it was worth savouring. Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott, newly in harness as openers, compiled England’s biggest Test opening stand in more than two years as the tourists reached lunch almost halfway to West Indies’ first-innings score for the loss of one wicket.

The quality of the opposition – who are without their best bowler – and the fact conditions were so benign after two cloudy days will be taken into account but their 125-run partnership was just what England required. It was their first century stand at the top of the innings since Cook and Nick Compton put on 231 in Dunedin in March 2013.

Both Cook and Trott passed 50, the latter’s a poignant milestone. Trott last made a Test half-century at The Oval during the 2013 Ashes; many thought the following Test, in Brisbane, would be his last after he left the tour, burned out and uncertain of his professional future.

This match may be taking place on the Spice Island but there was something reassuringly bland about England’s approach to the morning session. With play starting 15 minutes early, 34 overs were possible and 69 runs were scored. Cook and Trott and then Cook and Gary Ballance were content to accumulate balls faced, in the knowledge that they have team-mates lower down the order to make use of the credit later in the day.

Stuart Broad had said on the second evening how welcome the “old school” association between Cook and Trott was. “It was great to see a Cook-Trott fifty partnership, it’s been a few years,” he said. Purists, masochists and England fans of various stripe would have lapped it up.

The two have scored almost 2700 Test runs in partnership, their successes redolent of England’s march to No. 1 in the Test rankings between 2009 and 2011. This was the 10th time they had racked up a century stand together and the first since the Headingley Test against New Zealand in 2013 – also the last time that Cook reached three figures.

So in sync were they that each played out a maiden with the score on 99. Cook then cut Devendra Bishoo for a couple through point and a single off the next ball brought up his own half-century.

It was Bishoo who removed Trott and West Indies’ legspinner was millimetres from winning a review against Cook, as well. On 65, England’s captain pressed forward to be hit on the front pad; Steve Davis turned down the appeal and although it was shown to be hitting in line, Hawk-Eye’s projection had the ball clipping the bails on umpire’s call.

After two squally mornings in Grenada, the sunshine was as unbroken. Shannon Gabriel bowled with impressive pace – one ball was clocked at above 94mph – and attempted to ruffle Trott with a spell of short bowling. The slowness of the pitch actually made the ball fly through at an awkward height but Trott showed good judgement in getting out of the way.

The bombardment did keep Trott in his crease for the follow-up full delivery but he squeezed an outside edge through gully for the first boundary of the morning. It was another dozen overs before the second was struck, as Trott leaned into a gorgeous on drive off Kemar Roach.

He fell in the following over, however, well taken at second slip after edging a hard-spun legbreak from Bishoo. The spinner, another making a Test comeback, found some purchase in the pitch, enough to suggest that England’s best chance of winning will be to bat once. (Cricinfo)



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